Unfiltered

While I missed it Live, I managed to watch that Warlords Q&A over the weekend. You can watch it yourself on Youtube, and I recommend doing so. It was simultaneously the most raw, unfiltered interview I’ve ever seen, and the most baffling and ultimately a little demoralizing.

Before I get into the details though, here’s how I did on the BINGO front:

So close...

So close…

If you can’t bring yourself to watch the full hour of video, MMO-Champion has an extremely abbreviated synopsis and Wowhead has an interpretative transcript. What neither of them really gets across is the otherwise unbelievable number of times that Ion Hazzikostas comes right out and says “We screwed up” on a large number of topics. Like, I started getting a little embarrassed watching it, even though I felt Blizzard needed called on all of them.

Let’s start this in order though.

Flying

Although Ion stated that he “didn’t like speaking for the group,” by the time the Polygon interview went out stating flying was no more, that decision did represent a majority of the design team at the time. I have talked about this enough so I won’t belabor the point, other than to say how incredibly disheartening it is to hear that more than half of the design team are insane coming from such a bizarre different worldview. I mean, I would feel a little bit better if the argument was “flying takes too many resources” or something. In the absence of any explanation though, I must accept a reality in which the design team is either incompetent or are aligned with a completely different entertainment paradigm than myself. If they do not know how or why this game is fun to me, how can I expect them to continue delivering a fun game in the future? Or me to expect one to be delivered?

I’m glad that the majority of the design team ended up finding a compromise palatable to their alien sensibilities. But it’s getting pretty clear that any entertainment derived from this MMO will be in spite of the design instead of because of it.

Reputations

“I’m really not going to defend [the 6.0 reputations] and say that they’re awesome and fun and engaging. They are completely mob grinds.” No, really, Ion said exactly that. The explanation is that Blizzard wasn’t going to do reputations at all this expansion, but decided to throw some shit together at the last minute because of the Trading Post and “other hooks.”

Apexis Dailies

“Clear failure on our part.” Ion mentioned that Blizzard did the whole “thing Blizzard routinely does” in lurching from one extreme to another, in this case a reaction to the “World of Dailycraft” theme of Mists of Pandaria. The idea was that instead of doing 5 different quests in an area, you can do the equivalent of five different quests worth of miscellaneous stuff in that same area. Only this time, the rewards were shit and the lack of narrative makes the entire enterprise more nakedly grindy. That’s not even commentary on my part, that is what Ion basically said.

Lack of Endgame World Content

The design team was so caught up in making sure Garrisons as a system was worth doing, a lot of the activities you would normally do outside are instead done in your own little instance.

Professions

See above. Don’t worry though, Felblight will fix it.™

Alt Burnout due to Garrisons

Blizzard will nerf gold gains (Account-wide diminishing returns) to save you from yourself. In fact, they don’t like alts serving to enhance a single main character either. Which is another one of those “do you even play your own game?!” moments to me.

Dungeons Being Pointless

“That’s another one of our regrets.” Ion believes that Mythic dungeons will “salvage” the situation a little bit, before launching back into his whole “doing dungeons for Valor doesn’t make sense” tirade. Which is itself utterly bizarre given the fact that A) new reputation factions do this all the time, and B) Tanaan Jungle will be raining ilevel 650+ gear from the sky. Like literally what the fuck? Unless you are trying to actively “discourage the use” of the LFD tool – which I would not put it past them at this point – I don’t understand why else he or anyone would discourage group content in this way. Even if the dungeons are faceroll, it is at least social facerolling.

Why Are Demo Locks Being Nerfed?

“Because we’d rather you not play demonology.” That is a direct quote – look at Lore’s eyes when Ion says it. Hilarious. Less hilarious is the elaboration, which essentially boils down to Blizzard not liking how the spec plays out mechanically, but don’t want to actually fix it within an expansion, so they’d rather not have people playing the spec in the meantime. Which is… well, one way of doing it, I guess.

Ability Pruning

“We’re not trying to design rotations that feel engaging fighting a target dummy.” Again, direct quote. On the one hand, I can understand where they are coming from. If you are able to stand still and belt out your rotation with no downtime, chances are that the raid encounter itself is boring, e.g. you are not needing to move out of the fire, click the box, collapse for a meteor effect, etc. On the other hand… what? If your rotation isn’t engaging under perfect circumstances, when is it ever going to be engaging? So for all those hundreds of hours of clunky Retribution gameplay where you are desperately waiting for auto-attack procs to play your class, it was intended? Never going to be fixed?

Flabbergasted is the only way I can describe my reaction.

Absorbs Dominating the Healing Game

It’s better than it was in Mists, but every raid should have a Disc Priest, yes. Sorry.

_______________

Just to recap, Ion admitted to Blizzard screwing up Reputations, Apexis Dailies, endgame content in general, Professions, Garrisons, Dungeons, Demo Warlocks, requiring Disc Priests for serious raids, and that unfun ability rotations are intended.

Guys, I don’t even know any more. Maybe the developers have always been this way behind the scenes, and we just never saw them like this. Maybe the huge influx of interns have diluted the talent pool. Or perhaps we are just all trapped in an incomprehensible universe, devoid of meaning but otherwise working as intended.

I just… I dunno. I’m just going to play some videogames instead of thinking about this anymore.

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Posted on June 15, 2015, in WoW and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. From your reactions, I am grateful I didn’t listen to this. I am also thankful I no longer play.

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  2. Blizzard has always struck me as reasonably good at seeing and even admitting errors… after the fact. Then, as has been pointed out, they overreact and create new problems in the opposite direction. What they really need is some better foresight. Admittedly, that’s easier to say than to do, but still…
    So, I find none of this surprising, other than how blatantly some of it was stated, and as much I would like to hope for improvement, all I really expect is change. Note that change is not necessarily improvement.

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    • It’d be great if they could, you know, decide not change things for a change. Just look at something that worked in a prior expansion and do that thing again. It might not make for an exciting expansion box, but at some point it will be the only extreme they have not explored.

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  3. So basically, New Blizzard finally confirming what I have been telling people since WotLK; Old Blizzard is dead, and they didn’t leave enough notes for the interns that make up New Blizzard to do anything but slowly (or not so slowly, of late) destroy what should have been an unstoppable juggernaut of a game.

    The above is all a joke from them, but it also makes sense. WoD was a scramble to go back to Vanilla, but it failed, and now they are again scrambling to figure out what made the game bleed slower with WotLK and beyond, and will likely screw that up too.

    As I’ve said in other locations; at least New Blizzard is going down the SOE path of entertaining us, not with their games, but with how they run them.

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    • As always, your cut-off is an expansion too early. Change that to Cataclysm, and I would agree with your assessment.

      In any case, this interview really marks a turning point on my perception of things. Up to this point, I had attributed most of Blizzard’s missteps to be that of opinions or overreach. I’ve always said Cataclysm’s harder dungeons were a mistake, for example, but I can understand that someone might feel differently on a philosophical level. Just throwing Reputations together at the last minute though? So obviously making Apexis quests pointless? Straight-up nerfing a spec because you don’t like it, don’t want to fix it, and don’t want anyone to play it in the meantime? I would say this was “Amateur Hour to the extreme” behavior, but that would be an insult to amateurs.

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      • WotLK had Wintergrasp (which along with being trash, was also sold as Blizzard’s answer to minimizing open-world PvP with the rest of the game), and Blizzard being 100% serious when they said “100+ player battles are technically impossible”. It was the start of the ‘accessibility’ mistake spiral. It was the first expansion that didn’t result in long-term sub growth.

        Was WotLK as bad as Cata or MoP? No. But does it belong with vanilla and TBC as good or positive steps for the game, both from a design perspective and from a player retention measure? Nope. It took a very long time to stop WoW’s momentum, but WotLK was the first step. Cata just accelerated what WotLK started.

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  4. First of all, I’m really enjoying your blog, great content and a good read.

    Secondly, admitting they’ve failed seems more like a PR technique to humanize the company more than anything else. I don’t want Blizzard to admit they go to extremes, I want them to demonstrate that they are capable of correcting that error. That’s one of the problems I see with the company, they keep saying, “we are aware of these problem areas, we want to change them” and then they groundhogs day the next expansion. “Open communication” from the dev team at this point is moot, we don’t need transparency, we need competence.

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    • Exactly right. I’m glad in many ways that Blizzard is self-aware enough to admit that mistakes were made, but as a company, that isn’t enough anymore. They do this shit every expansion, from one extreme to the next. I’m at the point where I feel like someone needs to fall on a sword here just to demonstrate that there are consequences to screwing up an expansion this badly. Losing millions of subscriptions clearly isn’t enough, which is already pretty insane.

      I don’t know anymore. Maybe someone isn’t getting a bonus this year or something behind the scenes. It just feels like your alcoholic friend falling off the wagon for the fifth time, apologizing but with no plan to stay sober.

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  5. Alt Burnout due to Garrisons

    This one was hardly new, there already was talk about it with the Pandaria farm…..
    They should have just copied the SWToR approach and make the garrison account-bound. I mean, not having ALL the building for ALL the professions isn’t going to kill anyone.

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  6. They have been saying that absorbs are a problem literally since disc priest became a thing.

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    • Yep. And I cannot imagine a scenario in which absorbs would ever not be a thing. In any other situation, healing someone at full HP is a waste; absorbs break that rule. Unless the boss has some kind of mechanic triggered on percent HP lost, absorbs will always be better in every scenario because they’re a Heal + X instead of just a Heal.

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